Around two years ago the Flyweight division looked like one of the best in the sport with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka, Brian Viloria, Johnriel Caismero, Amnat Ruenroeng and Akira Yaegashi as well as the promise of fighters like Donnie Nietes and Naoya Inoue moving into the division and making a mark in the division. Sadly though the division has gone from being one of the best to one that has been left as a relative mess with fighters moving up, or down, in weight and leaving us with a lack of real star power. Yeah Ioka is still there but he's the only one of that first group to still look like a prime fighter, and the only other champion in the division is the much maligned Zou Shiming, who is unlikely to keep the WBO title for long.
The latest fighter to abandon the division was recent IBF champion Johnriel Casimero (23-3, 15), who defended the belt just once. Casimero, like Gonzalez and Estrada, has vacated a Flyweight title in 2016 to chase bigger bouts at Super Flyweight, not a huge problem but it is one that takes yet more star power away from the Flyweight division, and potentially forces the division to move towards pushing the next generation a little bit quicker than expected.
With Casimero vacating the IBF have already ordered their top contenders to face off for the title. Those top contenders are Donnie Nietes (39-1-4, 22), who is ranked #3 behind to two vacant slots, and Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi (22-3, 15), AKA Komgrich Nantapech or Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, who is ranked #4, just a place behind Nietes.
At the moment it's unclear if Nietes will take this opportunity or pursue a WBO title fight with Shiming, for whom he is the mandatory challenger. It gives Nietes a really key position in deciding the future of the division but it also gives the division yet another opening for some of the rising fighters at Flyweight, including Daigo Higa, Muhammad Waseem, Andrew Selby and Kevin Satchell along with veterans like Takuya Kogawa and Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep, who are both said to be after world title fights.
Although decisions haven't been made it does look like 2017 is going to be a massively transitional year for the Flyweight, and could, hopefully, make the year a really interesting one for the division even if we do have to wait until 2018 for the division to really make much sense.
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